Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Gehenna Asmodeus Loki Thor!" - Night of the Demon (1980) - Part 2 of 3


This is Part 2 of our discussion of Night of the Demon. You can read Part 1 here.

At this point in the story, Professor Nugent and his students have set out on their expedition to find bigfoot, after hearing story after story portraying the creature as a pitiless murderer. It is now too late to turn back. What mysteries will they uncover next?


Once they set up camp and the campfire is burning, it is time for another story within a story about an incident that occurred nearby. A motorcyclist rides along a winding highway. He stops for a cigarette and a bathroom break. Number one. Unfortunately for the motorcyclist, Bigfoot is crouching in the bushes directly in front of him. In the film's signature scene, Bigfoot grabs his penis and rips it off. The man survives long enough to stumble back to his motorcycle, but he soon bleeds to death.

That night, Roy hears something in the woods. He and Professor Nugent sneak through the trees to witness the followers of the late Reverend McGinty performing a ritual in which a woman is impregnated with a demon child by a man wearing a Bigfoot mask. The other cult members--actually the townspeople--are chanting something like "Gehenna Asmodeus Loki Thor."

Nugent fires his pistol to stop the ceremony. A torch falls on some leaked gasoline, causing a forest fire and also lighting up what appears to be a Bigfoot effigy. "Let them handle it," Nugent says. "They live in these woods. At least it will keep them busy for the rest of the night."

Image from Night of the Demon (1980) showing a fire and the hand of a bigfoot effigy

Next we see Nugent bigfoot's hand rip through the tent wall and tear out Nugent's throat, but it turns out to be a dream of Nugent's wife.



In the morning, the group finds the boat has been taken, frustrating their sensible intention to give up and leave the forest. They find a bigfoot print in the mud and make a plaster cast, then they set off into the wilderness in search of Crazy Wanda.

They set up camp and analyze the plaster cast of the foot. It does not appear to be a hoax. Despite the gravity of being threatened not only by the murderous bigfoot but also the devil worshippers, romance is in the air. One couple flirts in their tent. Another couple heads away from camp with a sleeping bag and blanket to make love to a piano score. The bigfoot stalks them and rakes its massive claws down the man's back. Back at the campsite, they treat the bloody gashes with some kind of powder.

   

The next day, they hike farther into the woods and find McGinty's cabin. Out front there are two headstones, presumably one for Reverend McGinty and one for the child.

They knock, and Wanda lets them come inside to rest--Roy tells the others that Wanda was the woman that was going to be raped in the devil worshippers' ceremony.

Inside, Wanda sits on a rocking chair facing a blue door.


She gets upset when they show her the plaster cast of the footprint, smashing the cast and running through the blue door into another room. She screams and cries, clearly not completely mute.

At night, we see the gang has set up camp near the cabin, among the tombstones. It's time for another of Professor Nugent's stories within a story. "It wasn't far away from here where the body of a woodsman was found. It was horribly mutilated."

We flash back to another bigfoot encounter that had no survivors. A man is chopping wood. He uses his bandana to wipe his brow and when he turns around his axe is gone. Bigfoot buries the blade of the axe in the woodsman's shoulder. Then the axe comes down again.


Then Nugent starts another story about two Girl Scouts who wandered off their trail. These Girl Scouts clearly aren't following modern rules to ensure knife safety.


They run right into bigfoot, who somehow forces them to knife each other repeatedly. Nugget says their bodies were found two days later.

The campers take shifts guarding the campsite. Pete, who looks like John Denver, hears something on his shift. He takes a shotgun--which, incidentally, the group has stolen from Wanda's cabin--into the woods.


Then he sees bigfoot, turns and runs into a tree, and dies. The gun discharges.

Hearing the gunshot, the others race into the woods to find Pete, but they find only the gun and a bloody mark on a tree.

The next morning, Nugent tries something new: hypnotism. He hypnotizes an initially compliant Wanda, but when he asks her to relax she cries out and goes back to her rocking chair. The group notices she gets agitated when they go near the blue door. They ask her what is inside. When they get no response, they hold her down and unlock the door.

Ignoring Wanda's traumatized cries, they enter the room, which turns out to be a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Wanda cries, "My baby! My baby!"


Now their next attempt at hypnotism works. Nugent asks her to remember a long time ago when she was 15 years old.

While ice cream truck music plays in the background, we enter Wanda's flashback to her childhood. Her minister father whips her with a strap because she betrayed him. She doesn't remember doing anything wrong.

Then we see her encounter in the woods with bigfoot. During a thunderstorm, the monster rapes her while her father watches from the cabin. Her father races outside with a rifle and shoots bigfoot, who runs off.


Wanda recalls herself impregnated by bigfoot, and giving birth. She believes McGinty killed the baby.

(It should be noted with admiration that Melanie Graham, the actress playing Wanda as an adult--with her tousled hair and dirty face--also plays Wanda as a 15-year-old girl--with less tousled hair and a clean face. It must be said that she is equally believable in both roles.)


In Part 3, we will return from Wanda's flashback and move into the gripping conclusion of Night of the Demon. Farewell for now!

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